Poor Steven Weber
. Back in 2001, the Wings
star endured critical scorn for his self-titled NBC sitcom, later aptly renamed Cursed
. Afterward, he did a brief supporting stint on Once & Again
and 10 months in Broadway's The Producers
. Tonight at 10 pm/ET, the 43-year-old stars in ABC's The D.A.
— a four part limited-run drama series about a morally ambiguous Los Angeles district attorney. Here, he tells TV Guide Online how it feels to make his television comeback.
TV Guide Online: The last show you headlined — Cursed — was hated by critics. What's your take, in retrospect?
Steven Weber: Look, they were right! They saw what it was — a mess! I'm the first to admit that. It was an educational experience for me. I'm lucky to still be getting more opportunities to work, really. Even the press — which can be alternately wise or extremely thick and cruel — couldn't help but see that show was a train wreck.
TVGO: You say it was educational. How so?
Weber: I learned that if I ever get in that situation, if I can't help steer it the way it should be steered — and I'm not a control freak — I'll just jump ship. Hank Azaria had a similar problem with his NBC sitcom [the short-lived Imagine That]. He got out of there, because he saw what the probability of success was. [Laughs] When there's too many cooks in the kitchen, there's going to be a lot of seared flesh!
TVGO: How is The D.A. different from other lawyer shows?
Weber: There are literally no courtroom scenes. So many shows have featured those obligatory court scenes that we could all probably represent ourselves successfully, if we ever had to be sued. I'm going to sue you after this interview, actually, and we'll see how you do!
TVGO: Ouch! It's not that bad.
Weber: It's bad. [Laughs]
TVGO: Your DA David Franks is an anti-hero, rather like Tony Soprano or Vic Mackey from The Shield. Are these tarnished knights — crooked guys who do good — a new trend?
Weber: I think it's the way to go, after years of two-dimensional, fairly simplistically drawn heroes. Even nice people are corruptible, neurotic and vain. Those are actually the qualities I found most attractive about this role. I don't know if it's a trend, but a few shows have snuck in there and they're grabbing people in the way most television doesn't by following some cookie-cutter formula. That's not to say shows like CSI and Law & Order, which are formulaic, aren't good shows. But people also have a taste for something different.
TVGO: Why is The D.A. only four episodes long?
Weber: That's a function of ABC having had a very difficult season with its one-hour dramas. All their one-hours that debuted in the fall are gone. They are hesitant and a little nervous to make a solid commitment, so they did a minimal pickup. They'll play it by ear to see if it gets attention critically or ratings-wise. If they don't extend it, so be it. The four episodes are done in such a way that it ties a nice bow on the story — there's a combination of resolution and an open door.
TVGO: You're also doing Showtime's movie version of Reefer Madness.
Weber: Madness was an unintentionally kitschy film made in 1938 about the evils of marijuana. It's been made into a successful musical and now they're doing a film. [Switches into a mock-scary voice.] I play Jack, who's a marijuana pusher. He pushes the reefer on young punks like you and gets 'em hooked!